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hardware better for learning synth programming??
Old 25th August 2011
  #1
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hardware better for learning synth programming??

ok i want light shed on if analog gear would be much more helpful in learning synth programming (particularly modulation) than itb software. i want to learn modulation particularly. i am looking at purchasing a synth if this is the case. the reason i have been told it is better is because you are controlling the parameters physically as opposed to just using a mouse.
Old 25th August 2011
  #2
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For me it was software experience first.
Old 25th August 2011
  #3
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it's much more fun to do this with a (good) hardware synth (it really doesn't matter if it's analog or digital in this case). but easier? i don't know. especially the modulation is mostly better displayed in software. but there are some useful hardware synths too. i learned a lot with my waldorf Q (keyboard). and i can advise it for you too.
Old 25th August 2011
  #4
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yeh I've been learning on software for 6 months so far. using logic now. i hate the logics es2 modulation controls. sylenth is better for me.
Old 25th August 2011
  #5
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the easiest things to learn synthesis on are older analog synths.. roland SH series,, junos etc.. anythign with knobs/sliders on it. they are so immediate.. you turn it on and play it and you figure out what does what in like 10 seconds. after that the challenge becomes figuring out how to master them.

but.. that's just my experience. for me there was nothing simpler than an analog monosynth.. super fun too.
Old 25th August 2011
  #6
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I agree with that assessment: whatever you pick, make sure it has one function per knob. Junos are great since you don't even have to bother with oscillators modulating eachother or tuning differences.

A Blofeld is neat - but not the first choice to learn synthesis on. A Nord Lead 2 (or its rack version) is near-ideal.

Sylenth1 is not deep. That is not necessarily a criticism; it's just that the modulation is restricted and easily laid out.

Learning synthesis means that you should be able to spot dependencies easily - an LFO or envelope only does anything when it's pointed at something. If it's pointed at something, it only does anything if there's an amount specified. When that's done, you'll only hear something change if the amount falls in range.

See https://www.gearslutz.com/board/elect...-question.html
Old 25th August 2011
  #7
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I always get the feeling that the big majority of "how do I re-create that sound" posts are from users with soft synths. But of course that is not based on facts and somewhat a prejudice of mine. Maybe we should make it a requirement that these post have to mention the synth they are using! heh
Old 25th August 2011
  #8
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Pschelfh's Avatar
Nord Lead (or Rack) 3 !!

Best interface I ever saw on a hardware synth. The knobs re-set themselves in the correct position when you select a new sound.

The sound might be not as 'fat' as a real analog, but every knob does what it says on the label + I think the filter has a nice 'squelch' in it, I've heard worse on some real analogs.

+ as a bonus, you get some (easy to use) FM to play with. heh

Peter.
Old 25th August 2011
  #9
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tyler477's Avatar
Minimoog model d
Old 25th August 2011
  #10
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teamsterjim's Avatar
 

Software first.
Most of it's free, and you can then go demo a real piece of kit. Also those zippers you hear and massive echos and chorusing needs to be on software or it sounds like an mp3 synth.
Analog hardware doesn't suffer from the sound quality of 1's and 0's..
Old 25th August 2011
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seen-da-sizer View Post
I always get the feeling that the big majority of "how do I re-create that sound" posts are from users with soft synths. But of course that is not based on facts and somewhat a prejudice of mine. Maybe we should make it a requirement that these post have to mention the synth they are using! heh
I think those posts should be banned really, the answer is always 'learn synthesis', people don't learn if you just give them the answer again and again.

I would say software as it (can) be layed out much clearer.
Old 25th August 2011
  #12
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Yoozer's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by seen-da-sizer View Post
I always get the feeling that the big majority of "how do I re-create that sound" posts are from users with soft synths.
The majority is by people who don't know about synthesis.

A lot of what you see in the pop sound sources thread is embarassingly simple and does not require extensive synthesis knowledge. The dubstep basslines are trickier - but there are boatloads of Youtube videos for that detailing everything step by step.

Quote:
Maybe we should make it a requirement that these post have to mention the synth they are using! heh
That's pretty much the first thing I ask every time I see one of those threads.

What people should actually learn is how to ask questions the smart way, and how to become self-reliant and capable of doing experiments. "Just go twist some knobs" is pretty much the worst possible advice to give.

Quote:
Originally Posted by offki View Post
people don't learn if you just give them the answer again and again.
People also don't learn if you just reply with "learn synthesis" and leave it at that.

Quote:
I would say software as it (can) be layed out much clearer.
That would be a step forward, yes.
Old 25th August 2011
  #13
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Quote:
hardware better for learning synth programming??
If you have money to spend on a synth with full parameter access via knobs or sliders, then yes. It can't be beaten for learning since it's much faster and intuitive. The already mentioned Nord 3 has the best interface ever designed, imo, of course.

Learning modulation?

I'd say a good software synth is better. One of the new generation of synths which eschew modulation matrix in favour of a more graphic method is great. See Cirlce, DCAM Synth Squad,etc. It's not a common method but it's the most intuitive inviting experimentation. A caution: once experienced, it's difficult to get used back to a mod matrix system.

However, yet again, a well designed analogue synth will also make modulation a quick and easy, as heaving direct parameter access is really unbeatable.
Old 25th August 2011
  #14
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i think learning on a simple knobby hardware synth would be the best. I started on hardware *roland v-synth* and while it was a little trickier than some boards would have been i learned just fine. Not to mention it taught me about sampling and manipulation. I think you could learn just as well on good software as well. Something like Sylenth1 would be a great synth to learn on. Plus it sounds fantastic.
Old 25th August 2011
  #15
Do you think a Novation Ultranova maybe a good choice? I mean without the software editor.
Old 25th August 2011
  #16
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get something older and knobbier to start with. Like a Roland JP8000, Alesis Ion or a Korg MS2000. all can be had much cheaper and are way more user friendly to program. I have only seen pics but that ultranova looks like a nightmare to program.
Old 25th August 2011
  #17
In Europe the JP8000, the Ion and the MS2000 cost used the same that a new Ultranova. Thats why I asked.
Old 25th August 2011
  #18
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all software for me, synth1 is a great free VST until the Roland Juno 6 I picked up on craigslist for $100 ... love those sliders... the sounds are just waiting to be experimented with... route through your vsts for unlimited analogue glory
Old 25th August 2011
  #19
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blinky909's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by realist22 View Post
ok i want light shed on if analog gear would be much more helpful in learning synth programming (particularly modulation) than itb software. i want to learn modulation particularly. i am looking at purchasing a synth if this is the case. the reason i have been told it is better is because you are controlling the parameters physically as opposed to just using a mouse.
the issue isn't whether it is an analog synth, but rather, the method of synthesis you are wishing to explore. Subtractive, Additive, Frequency Modulation, and Formant synthesis are several of the different methods used when creating sounds. most people cut their teeth on Subtractive simply because it is easy to understand, you are removing elements of a complex audio signal with a filter of some type (low pass, high pass, band pass...).

learning simple subtractive synthesis can be done very easily, i downloaded an app for my phone that is a subtractive synth.

the fun, excitement, and insane sounds come from the elements applied to the three basic components of a subtractive synth - the Oscillator, the Filter, and the Amplifier. these elements are typically the LFO, Low Frequency Oscillator (sub-audible frequencies) and the Envelope Generator, which, in an analog synth applies a voltage curve over time based on the setting sof the envelope.

the ALSA Modular Synth (AMS) is a great tool for learning how the various components work together to create sounds. it is Linux based, but i'm sure there is a Windows or Mac based alternative.

the mouse comment is simply absurd. the goal is to learn the interaction of the elements, not to do real-time knob wanking. besides, the best control will be from re-triggeed modulators, not your off timed wrist twitches.
Old 25th August 2011
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoozer View Post
I agree with that assessment: whatever you pick, make sure it has one function per knob. Junos are great since you don't even have to bother with oscillators modulating eachother or tuning differences.
actually, i think something like the Juno is not a good choice for learning synthesis (other than the very basics of subtractive). i started out with an SH-101 and Juno-106 (plus a 60 soon after that), and feel they were detrimental to my synth 'education'. lots of fun, for sure, but i think their limitations are a hinderance to learning anything besides what a few summed oscillators through a LPF with a simple LFO is 'capable' of.

- no option for detuning or osc sync
- one simple envelope shared between osc, lpf, and vca
- lfo has only one waveshape, routing only to pitch or filter cutoff (101 is better in this regard)

but yes, the interface is fantastic, and they're a blast to use.
Old 25th August 2011
  #21
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blinky909's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jbuonacc View Post
i think their limitations are a hinderance to learning anything besides what a few summed oscillators through a LPF with a simple LFO is 'capable' of.

- no option for detuning or osc sync
- one simple envelope shared between osc, lpf, and vca
- lfo has only one waveshape, routing only to pitch or filter cutoff (101 is better in this regard)
you would never had realized how limiting the Juno's where unless you exhausted their potential, i'd say you learned quite a bit, but you missed the hidden potential in the 106 and even the 101.

my first synth was a Juno 106 and there is a second LFO or ENV, both of which allow a great amount of control to either the DCO pitch or VCF cutoff. you just have to be creative and look at the entire synth. *hint* look at the lower left corner

you could also record slider movements in your sequencer.... the Juno has plenty of control if you just want to do a little more work.


the 101 has the mod grip input, which when used with an external CV source such as an LFO or EG can add more dimension the synth.

of course both are just single oscillator synths and the crazy fun starts with 2 OSC's doing FM or Ring Mod.
Old 26th August 2011
  #22
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Thread Starter
looks like software is the way to go. i can't really afford a nord lead or juno. dcam synth squad looks like a nice plugin to get, my friend has it and the layout is quite graphical and easier to use than say the es2.



[QUOTE=blinky909;6969830] most people cut their teeth on Subtractive simply because it is easy to understand, you are removing elements of a complex audio signal with a filter of some type (low pass, high pass, band pass...).

learning simple subtractive synthesis can be done very easily, i downloaded an app for my phone that is a subtractive synth.

the fun, excitement, and insane sounds come from the elements applied to the three basic components of a subtractive synth - the Oscillator, the Filter, and the Amplifier. these elements are typically the LFO, Low Frequency Oscillator (sub-audible frequencies) and the Envelope Generator, which, in an analog synth applies a voltage curve over time based on the setting sof the envelope.

the ALSA Modular Synth (AMS) is a great tool for learning how the various components work together to create sounds. it is Linux based, but i'm sure there is a Windows or Mac based alternative.
[QUOTE]

what do you mean people cut their teeth on subtractive synthesis? i know its supposed to be the easiest type of synthesis. can you recommend any plugins for additive synthesis and fm synthesis that are easy to use? thisALSA Modular Synth (AMS) tool sounds interesting but i own a mac so i will have to find something similar.
Old 26th August 2011
  #23
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I know I'm newer at mixing, but I learned a bit on software synths at first, like arturia's minimoog, and i learned my way around the synth, but then, by pure luck i ran into someone with a voyager and got to mess around with it for a couple days, and.... holy crap. yes it changed the way i dealt with synths. having knobs and stuff in front of you to play with didn't only make it quicker/easier to pick up on fundamentals, but it was SO FUN. i mean, i'm sure people learn different on different things, but there was just something about having it right in front of me.

i'm not really sure if it was the slightly more 'limited' aspect of analogue... because i know i didn't tap into the true potential of the synth. but when i opened up my first synth on my comp there was just so much there. with the hardware, there's only so much there, still a lot, but there's a finite number of knobs, you know? and learning to make sounds with that finite number of knobs made me realize more fundamentals of sound synthesis then just randomly assigning parameters to other parameters to see what happened. heck if you can get your hands on a cheap microkorg and learn how to make something decent sounding on it, I think it could really teach a lot; it did for me.
Old 26th August 2011
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by L.S.D. View Post
I know I'm newer at mixing, but I learned a bit on software synths at first, like arturia's minimoog, and i learned my way around the synth, but then, by pure luck i ran into someone with a voyager and got to mess around with it for a couple days, and.... holy crap. yes it changed the way i dealt with synths. having knobs and stuff in front of you to play with didn't only make it quicker/easier to pick up on fundamentals, but it was SO FUN. i mean, i'm sure people learn different on different things, but there was just something about having it right in front of me.

i'm not really sure if it was the slightly more 'limited' aspect of analogue... because i know i didn't tap into the true potential of the synth. but when i opened up my first synth on my comp there was just so much there. with the hardware, there's only so much there, still a lot, but there's a finite number of knobs, you know? and learning to make sounds with that finite number of knobs made me realize more fundamentals of sound synthesis then just randomly assigning parameters to other parameters to see what happened. heck if you can get your hands on a cheap microkorg and learn how to make something decent sounding on it, I think it could really teach a lot; it did for me.
yes i understand what you mean. will be looking for something cheap.
Old 26th August 2011
  #25
If you want to learn about modulation and synthesis, you really ought to try out VAZ Modular 3, (VST, Standalone) software synth. It's a beast. It comes with a few tutorials that get you on the right track, and then you can dive in head-first and make incredibly complex setups. This is how I first learnt about synthesis, and I still love playing with it today. Anyone who hasn't at least tried the demo should check it out. It is like lego for synth nerds.
Old 26th August 2011
  #26
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cruelty's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcpepe View Post
Do you think a Novation Ultranova maybe a good choice? I mean without the software editor.
yes, definitly! it's very easy to program. in many ways easier then a virus for example. you go with one button in the sections (for example "oscillator") and you see at the display all the values and can change them with the knobs. very useful!
at a virus you don't see any value except you turn a knob. it's much harder to understand what happen at the selected preset...
Old 26th August 2011
  #27
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cruelty's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Estin View Post
get something older and knobbier to start with. Like a Roland JP8000, Alesis Ion or a Korg MS2000. all can be had much cheaper and are way more user friendly to program. I have only seen pics but that ultranova looks like a nightmare to program.
you are wrong!
they aren't cheaper and they aren't easier to program. and the ultranova sounds better and affords more features.
Old 26th August 2011
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cruelty View Post
you are wrong!
they aren't cheaper and they aren't easier to program. and the ultranova sounds better and affords more features.
maybe in europe they aren't cheaper but they are in the US. MS2000 and Ion can be had for $400-ish vs. $700 for a new ultranova. How can it be easier than programming synths that are nearly knob per function? "Intuitive" and "sounds better" are a matter of opinion. heh

Last edited by Estin; 26th August 2011 at 07:03 AM.. Reason: typo
Old 26th August 2011
  #29
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cruelty's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Estin View Post
maybe in europe they aren't cheaper but they are in the US. MS2000 and Ion can be had for $400-ish vs. $700 for a new ultranova. How can it be easier than programming synths that are nearly knob per function?
yes, maybe.
in germany you pay 350,- € for a used ultranova, 350,- € for a used MS2000 and 500,- € for a used JP8000 (Ion is to far out of my world... ).

it's only better to have one knob per function when every knob is in the current position of the current sound. if the synth have a preset storage this is nearly never the case (except you have a "manual" knob and so don't use presets).
the UI of the ultranova is really clever designed.
and, to come back to the topic of this thread, if you want to learn something about modulations, you should have some more modulation sources and destinations. the JP8000 and MS2000 are very basic in this aspect.
Old 26th August 2011
  #30
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blinky909's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by realist22 View Post
what do you mean people cut their teeth on subtractive synthesis?
historically, people would get a simple poly subtractive synth, like a Juno 106, or Poly 6 since they were cheap ($350-400). they were easy to use and it was hard to not write something cool sounding with them, esp. given the immediacy of the interface.

compared to a DX7/DX100 or TX81Z, the 106 and Poly 6 were simple and straight forward. programming FM is a mystery when compared to the easy to follow logic of subtractive synthesis.

a very good value, deep and very complex analog synth is the Oberheim Matrix 6/6R/1000 family. the modulation possibilities are incredible. there are ample numbers of things to use to affect other things. i am amazed that they still sell for what they were back in 1996 when i bought my first (i'm on my third).

the Matrix 6/6R/1000 is a software modular. here's a block diagram of it's complexity:

http://www.synthzone.com/midi/oberhe...x6/m6block.gif

and here's the entire modulation matrix

name me another $300 synth that can modulate the VCF or a waveshape with portamento!

i can not recommend any VST's or plugins, i don't use them. i have a room full of hardware and i like it that way.
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